Blazers’ Damian Lillard to have abdominal surgery on Thursday and be reassessed in 6 to 8 weeks, reports show


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Damian Lillard is undergoing surgery to treat the abdominal injury that plagued him all season, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Lillard will have the procedure on Thursday and will be reassessed in 6-8 weeks, by Chris Haynes of Yahoo. Lillard has already missed 11 games so far this season, and the injury has hampered him while playing for the United States team at the Olympics. He’s averaging 24 points per game, his lowest total since the 2014-15 season.

Lillard’s prolonged absence appears to be a fatal blow to any lingering playoff hopes the Portland Trail Blazers might have held, especially since CJ McCollum has always come out with a collapsed lung. The Blazers are 16-24 and sit 10th in the Western Conference. They’ve relied heavily on Anfernee Simons to keep them afloat lately, and the fourth-year guard has scored almost 28 points per game in Portland’s last five outings.

Lillard insisted he didn’t want to be traded from Portland to a more immediate contender, but Simons’ escape combined with the likely higher draft pick the Blazers will receive without Lillard could make a rebuilding tempting. The Blazers fired general manager Neil Olshey earlier in the season and are still looking for a permanent replacement. Reports have suggested that potential candidates for the job are interested in swapping Lillard and starting a rebuild, but without the job filled full-time, it’s impossible to know which direction the Blazers will go in.

Regardless, this is the first major injury suffered by Lillard, 31, in the NBA. He’s been one of basketball’s longest-lasting stars since moving to Portland, but no player is immune to injury. Now Portland will have to figure out how to move forward with their best player sidelined for the foreseeable future.

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